Design In Medicine


If you have read the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson then you might remember one scene he describes vividly. Jobs, on his deathbed, breathing heavily and sedated, noticed the bad design surrounding him in the hospital environment.

Jobs ripped it off [the oxygen mask] and mumbled that he hated the design and refused to wear it. Though barely able to speak, he ordered them to bring five different options for the mask and he would pick a design he liked… . He also hated the oxygen monitor they put on his finger. He told them it was ugly and too complex.

This may sound absurd, but indeed, medicine and healthcare lacks beauty. We’ve asked before why hospitals are so ugly and dreadful, in addition to any other item used in medicine. The inconvenient truth is that nobody cares. From my own experience in sales at hospitals and in speaking with doctors, I’ve learned that usability, user experience, colors, and design are not relevant factors at all to the utility of the object. However, before “Jobsian times” the same was true for the PC industry. Everybody cared about storage, speed, etc.. It was only with the advent of Apple Computers – when Steve Jobs showed the world how important design truly was to the utility of the hardware – that people started to care about design and aesthetics.

It is sad that physicians and other HCPs only care about functionality. Large corporations spend millions in creating a positive and friendly work environment. Google knows that having an amazing workplace heavily contributes to people’s performance and happiness.Walking into a hospital is entirely opposite. There is no design. There is no beauty. Starting from the entrance hall to the oxygen mask Steve Jobs so rightly described as ugly and complex.  I truly hope that the future generation of HCPs has an ambition to be surrounded by well designed products.

Although there are many examples of why design in healthcare is broke I am just pasting 2 screenshots from a medical conference and a non-medical conference. You decide within which environment you’d prefer to work.

ASCO_Annual_Meeting___Science___Society Festival_2014___Pioneers



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here